Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, May 31, 2012



Indonesian fans of the irrepressible pop star LADY GAGA were devastated over the weekend.  The tweet they least wanted to read appeared on their i-phones Saturday.  Imagine their pain when they saw these words from their beloved queen scrolled across their anti-glare screens: "Concert cancelled. I'm so very sorry to the fans & just as devastated as you if not more. You are everything to me."  OMG!  It's the tweet from hell!  Oh...and speaking of hell...that's just where enraged Islamic fundamentalists told Ms. Stefani Germanotta (Gaga's real name) to go.  In fact, these threats were the reason for the cancellation.  Wow!  How did everyone get so angry?

It all started five years ago, when Indonesia first started hosting concerts for international pop stars.  Previously, the the reclusive island nation had banned such events.  You see, the combination of Islam and military rule isn't really a "Lollapalooza" type of thing.  However, nowadays there are only limited bans on satellite TV and the Internet.  This means all Indonesians can easily access the Wonders of the West.  Not surprisingly, they soon demanded Hip-Hop concerts...and had the rupiahs to spend on it.  Beyoncé was the first major Western pop star to headline in Jakarta when she performed at JITEC Arena in 2007.

When Beyoncé did her ground-breaking Asia tour, she altered the performances so she wouldn't offend any socially conservative societies.  For example, she wore a sari for the Mumbai concert.  "Get Me Bodied" was not performed in Shanghai.  Backup dancers changed to less revealing dress and kept gyrations to an absolute minimum.  Similar tactics were adhered to by the Pussycat Dolls on their tour of the region the next year.  It seemed like a pretty nice compromise...that is until earlier this year when LADY GAGA announced her show on June Third.  More than 50,000 people snatched up tickets in a couple of days.   But...when the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) saw footage of the "Born This Way Ball Tour"...all hell broke lose! 

Over the last couple of months, a number of well attended marches and protests have occurred in Jakarta.  Sponsored by the FPI, they featured the usual: Angry chanting, clenched fists and effigy burnings.  They worked.  The organization's chairman Habib Salim Alatas said the cancellation was "good news" and that "Indonesians will be protected from sin brought about by this Mother Monster, the destroyer of morals." We here at the DUNER BLOG know that her outfits are way over the top...but c'mon, Habib!  Don't you think you're getting a little carried away?  Check out this quote: "Lady Gaga fans, stop complaining. Repent and stop worshipping the devil. Do you want your lives taken away by God as infidels?" Sounds like someone needs to chill.

While Lady Gaga will recover and continue touring in Singapore and Australia, the real issue here involves Islam and pop culture.  It's going to be a long, arduous climb...but someday the older generation of staunch, conservative clerics will be replaced by a new, more accepting Muslim brotherhood.  This younger generation will understand a simple fact: In every society there will always be a group of people who love the avaunt-gard.  They dig crazy post-modern sculptures, paintings that look more like spilled paint than art and eccentric pop stars like GAGA.  It's just a shame that Habib and the FPI don't listen to her lyrics...they're a lot more about acceptance and tolerance than raunchy sex.

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